Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Flaming Homos: The Conversation Gets Heated

Still incensed over my biblical treatment of the sin of homosexuality, more critics crawled out of the woodwork. Rather than attack the message of the Bible itself these folks changed it up a bit. They trained their guns on me. They didn’t like the message so they assaulted the messenger.

I don’t typically dignify ad hominem argumentation with full blog entries, but such tactics are so commonplace nowadays that I think all of us can relate. Anyone who dares make and then defend the biblical case against the sin of homosexuality is immediately demonized and marginalized. And let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like a good old fashioned character assassination!


And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake” (Luke 21:17). We’ve been warned, friends.

As usual my detractors’—or should I say accusers’--words appear bold and italicized. May God add His blessing to your reading.

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"I find your lack of humility, respect and charity a stain on the name of Jesus."
Many folks feel the same. They eschew and despise all moral certainty and religious conflict. However, church history, in a sense, is the study of theological debate and discourse. (Even the Lukan-Acts community was at times engaged in theological controversy.) It has been my personal experience and the experience of better men past and present, that to state a belief and then forcefully defend that stated belief, is to leave oneself vulnerable to the charge of pride and arrogance.

To state one's belief and then to defend that belief as being actually true [what Francis Schaeffer called "true Truth"]; to say to one's detractor: "My belief is True and yours is false," is often seen as disrespectful and uncharitable. In a culture deeply committed to philosophical pluralism and moral relativism--I don't see how the would-be apologist can avoid such charges.

That being said, I would never attempt to argue for my own humility. (That would be a little on the counter-productive side!) I believe my pride and arrogance to be just as sinful and at about the same level as yours. Pride is evil.

C.S. Lewis writes of pride: "It is the complete anti-God state of mind." And yet pride can smuggle itself right into the very center of our religious life. One can even pride himself on his own humility! What better or more ubiquitous evidence is there for the total depravity of man than PRIDE?

I am very much aware of the pride in my life, and how utterly ridiculous it is. I am also cognizant of the fact that in defending biblical truth my rhetoric can sometimes get the better of me. Many times, even in theological debate, ego raises its ugly head.

However, while I may sin in my defense of scripture, I do not believe the defense of scripture--or of any Truth--in and of itself is prideful or arrogant. But rather, even our "best works" are thoroughly tainted by sin. God help us!

Thus, it is not prideful or arrogant to believe God's word is the standard in all matters of faith and conduct, and to state and defend that belief. Quite the contrary.

Nor is it a show of humility to say "I don't know" when the Bible is quite clear on the issue at hand [whatever the issue may be]. I am not at all impressed with the "humility" of those who do not take stands [most of them moral] on what the Bible clearly teaches. It is a false and sinful "humility" to substitute one's own judgment for God's.

"Your self-examination is far too superficial...”
Indeed. I don't see how it could be otherwise. Isn't your self-examination far too superficial (c.f. Jer 17:9)? May God deliver us from all of our self-righteousness!

“Bigotry, rather than true exegesis, leads to you rejecting out of hand what you do not want to hear."
And there it is! I believe, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination…. God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful” ” (Lev 18:22; Rom 1:26-27), condemns homosexuality—not because the text is clear—but because I’m a BIGOT! I wonder what a non-bigoted, “true exegesis” of these passages would look like?

“You do not love your brother how can you be living in the light?"
Well...I believe I do love my brother ("love" of course, being defined by scripture). And yet, my love for my brother is imperfect. Would you say your love for the brethren is imperfect? Because we do not and cannot love perfectly, brotherly love cannot be the basis for our living in the light. No, brotherly love is the effect, not the cause; the fruit not the root.

I live in the light of Christ by grace alone, through faith alone, because of the active and passive obedience of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.

The Law, even if spoken with a smile and warm fuzzy feelings, CANNOT save us. "Be good. Love people," is LAW, not Gospel. Only the GOSPEL--what God has done for us in the Person and work of His Son--saves sinners.

“You do not care...being ‘right’ TRUMPS all! - lol -"
"Not caring" about others' feelings or opinions is certainly a symptom of pride. And of course, caring more for the feelings/opinions of men than for the Truth of God is also a sure symptom of pride—or perhaps pusillanimity. Those who would enjoy the smile of God must often endure the frowns of men. So what is the proper balance?

Rather than "being right trumps all," which is a pride issue to be sure, let us consider: How important is Truth? How important is correct belief? Does it really matter what we believe--so long as we're sincere? Is any Truth worthy of debate? When or at what point does debate become unworthy of Truth? These are crucial questions for me.

"'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Therefore submit to God" (James 4:7).

I pray God will give us grace to humble ourselves so that we will submit to His Lordship, to His word, in every area of our lives in both our actions and attitudes.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We’re Not Gonna Take It—Gays & Twisted Scripture

As anticipated, I received a few rebuttals to my last entry entitled, “Biblical Answers for Queer Questions.” Because there is nothing new to be said, the usual tired, liberal pablum was offered.

Yet it still amazes me the extraordinary lengths to which some will go in order to “justify” what the Bible condemns. Even more astounding is how some try to simultaneously hold onto scripture in one hand and homosexuality in the other.

I believe they do this because they covet the appearance of respectability. They clamor for the approbation of the Church and the approval of the sinful culture. But on matters of morality, this is a manifest impossibility. “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

Homosexuality is the hot button moral topic of our times, eclipsing even the scourge of abortion it seems. Is this the doing of the Church? No. No it is not. Gay activism in education, entertainment, and government is driving the conversation, not the church.

The church is not unduly elevating the sin of homosexuality, but we must speak of these things because we cannot ignore the ubiquitous push to change the hearts and minds of Americans. Make no mistake, there is a concerted, herculean effort to literally alter—brainwash if you will---the natural, God-given inclinations of our humanity.

The following is my interaction with my detractors. For clarity, their words appear bold and italicized. May God add His blessing to your reading and give us all the courage to stem the tide of the ungodly and stand upon His word.

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Please note that almost all biblical references concern heterosexual practices, most especially adultry [sic]. There is only one reference in the OT to man with man, nor homosexuality as understood in modern times, and only Paul‎'s ne remark, which actually probably is to pederasty and/or male prostitution. So there is practically no biblical reference to homosexuality, and none for how we understand it in our times.
In addition to the passages in my article [the aforementioned, “Biblical Answers for Queer Questions"], the Bible also condemns homosexuality in Lev 18:22; 20:13; and Deut 23:17 (and there are other passages as well). And contra your wildly irrational claim, the people of antiquity understood homosexuality--and heterosexuality--just as they understand these things today. (It's not rocket science.)

You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts. The Bible, in both Testaments, is abundantly clear that homosexuality is a sin. (There’s no “actually probably” to it.)


Yes, Lev. 18 & repeated in 20, but notice this is only one of a large number of hetero offenses even for death. The man with man is minimal at most. Deut. doesn't really apply because it addresses prostitution by both sexes…You are wrong on what they understood, which was only the practice and not the psychological inclination…Christians should recognize, as most do, that in the community homos must be respected with different human nature so long as they live moral lives

[At this juncture, I was provided an article entitled “Romans 1:25-27, Interpretation by Religious Liberals.”Some of my comments reference words from this article.   http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibc5.htm.]

It is not at all compelling--to those of us who have a high view of scripture, who believe that it is the inspired, infallible, and authoritative word of God (c.f. 2Tim 3:15-17)--to read articles which state that the Bible contains passages which are "immoral" and "should be ignored."

It is not at all compelling to read such nonsense that passages which CLEARLY condemn homosexuality as sinful--are actually "unrelated to homosexuality" or are not about "same-sex relationships." Such claims are nothing but blatantly dishonest obfuscations. The Bible couldn't possibly be more clear concerning the sin of homosexuality.

It is not all compelling to read folks who attempt to minimize what the Bible says concerning homosexuality; claiming that passages which decry the practice are of "minor importance...almost incidental." Or, that they don't "really apply."

It is not all compelling to read the irrational notion that ancient sex was different from modern sex--that the ancients had no clue of "psychological inclination." [Granted, the ancients weren't modern psychologists--we can hardly hold this against them--and didn't employ the jargon of psycho-babble; but they experienced and dealt with "psychological inclinations" nevertheless. The Bible refers to this particular "psychological inclination" as "sexual lust" and rightly calls it sin.] Furthermore, those of us with a high view of the Bible do not believe it to be a collection of ancient prejudices, but rather God's Word.

It is not at all compelling to read your smoke and mirrors and red herrings. Yes, the Bible does speak of heterosexual sins much more often than homosexual sin. But this is a non sequitur. We do not place texts on scales to see which weigh more. And just because homosexuality is listed among other sins doesn't in any way minimize the sin of homosexuality [or the other sins so listed.] The Bible, in no uncertain terms, condemns the sin of homosexuality.

It is not all compelling to read the mistaken notion that "Christians should recognize, as most do, that in the community homos must be respected with different human nature so long as they live moral lives."

Once again, you are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts. "Most Christians" do NOT approve of homosexuality, and virtually NONE did before 20th Century liberalism. "Most Christians" rightly consider it a sin. In fact, those denominations which are abandoning the clear teaching of scripture on this issue are hemorrhaging members. Entire churches are leaving such denominations. These are the facts.

The mistaken notion--that “most Christians” approve of homosexuality--is not at all compelling for another, more important reason: Morality isn't predicated upon majority vote. We do not determine what is and what isn’t moral based upon what "most Christians" think. Those of us with a high view of scripture bow to the authority of the Bible. The Bible defines morality, not the Christian.

Thus, claiming that homosexuals [I am not speaking of repentant homosexuals, but of those who are practicing homosexuals] can be living “moral lives” is an absurdity. It’s tantamount to saying active adulterers “must be respected” provided they are living “moral lives.” Such thinking and reasoning is morally and logically penurious.

I wish that those who approve of homosexuality would simply cease twisting the clear words and meanings of scripture, in effort to justify their position. Why can't those who approve of homosexuality be honest enough to admit that their views are not only unsubstantiated by scripture, but are actually contrary to scripture? Why can't they just admit that in regards to homosexuality they believe the Bible gets it wrong? Is this too much to ask? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Biblical Answers for Queer Questions

A reader recently contacted me concerning the death of a gay friend of his. As is so often the case, nagging questions and nagging people confronted his mind. When dilemmas such as these arise, the Bible is clear: “In the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).

Thankfully, he heeded the counsel of scripture and found confirmation and comfort. Below is our correspondence. For clarity his words are bold and italicized. May God add His blessing to your reading.
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A gay friend of mine died recently. A couple of people asked me, if he and his partner are Christians, will he go to Heaven??? Because their thinking is they have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and Jesus forgives all sin, we all sin...
One of the things that many Christians seem to forget is repentance. But at the same time, if I died suddenly, would I have time to repent of my sin, whatever it was that day? God's grace covers a lot…
I told a couple people that God speaks out against sexual sin more than any other sin in the Bible (hope that was right). And of course they remind me that God doesn't see one sin as more than another, sin is sin. One person said we are not to judge. I just need your spiritual knowledge, thoughts and advice.
First, the concept of "accepting Jesus as Lord..." is fraught with peril. Most Christians today think "getting saved" is accomplished by moving from the back to the front of a church and then repeating a prayer. I assure you, brother, changing geography and parroting a prayer never saved a single soul.

What does Christ teach us? "You must be born again." This is the activity of God upon the heart. In salvation, God removes the heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh. Consequently, this inner working of the Holy Spirit results in genuine repentance. (It is impossible that someone should be born again of God but never have repented.)

I could say more...but let's move on.

The notion, "God doesn't see one sin as more than another, sin is sin," is simplistic and entirely unbiblical. Not all sins are the same. Murdering someone in your heart is sinful but it is NOT the SAME as murdering someone in their bed! Right?? Lusting for a woman in your heart is sinful but it is NOT the SAME as physically fornicating, or raping, or committing adultery! Right??

Furthermore, we see a gradation of sin in the Old Testament. A few sins are punishable by death--most sins are not. And Jesus also speaks of sins worthy of "few stripes" and those which are worthy of "many stripes" (Luke 12:47-48). All sin deserves damnation [if we break one commandment we're guilty of breaking the whole of God's law (c.f. James 2:10)]; but not all sins are equally heinous or morally equivalent.

You write: "One person said we are not to judge."

Yet again, this is unbiblical and simplistic. To think is to judge. We make hundreds of judgments every day. To be discerning is to judge. The question is this: What shall be our standard for judging? Jesus condemns "unrighteous" judgment, not "righteous" judgment. God has given us the perfect standard for judging all things: His Word, the Bible.

Therefore, in our judging [which cannot be avoided] we must judge righteously. That is, we must judge all things in accordance to the word of God. The Apostle Paul is unambiguous: "he who is spiritual judges all things" (1Cor 2:15a). 

Thus, the spiritual man judges all things by the revealed will of God, the Holy Bible. We dare not substitute our judgment for His!

You ask: "if I died suddenly, would I have time to repent of my sin, whatever it was that day?"

One thing is certain: We do not live perfectly and so we will not die in a state of sinless perfection. We are saved by Grace alone, through Faith in Christ alone, because of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.

So the question is not, "When I die will I be sinless?" but rather, "Will I die in my sins?" or "Will I die clothed in the righteousness of Christ?" Thus, the one who is clothed in the righteousness of Christ need not fear death. For the believer, death has lost its sting!

Having said that, those who are truly "in Christ," while we are not sinless, while we do not perfectly obey God in our thoughts, words, or deeds--we do live in what I would call "the obedience of faith." In other words, we do not desire to live in sin. Rather, God has transformed our desires so that we long to please Him.

Now…what does Christ say to His Church concerning the sin of homosexuality? How are we to judge this sin?
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1Cor 6:9-11).
Isn’t the text clear? Those who live and die in these sins--or die in any sins--“will not inherit the kingdom of God.” But consider the word of hope: “And such WERE some of you.” There is repentance and forgiveness for these sins to those who are in Christ!

In addition we read:
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them
(Rom 1:26-32).
Yet again, isn’t this text abundantly clear? Pay particular attention to the last verse: Knowing the righteous judgment of God--we cannot practice such things or APPROVE of those who do.

No, you and I are not the ultimate Judge. Certainly not! But the Judge of all the earth has revealed to us what is and what will be His standard of judgment. You and I are simply called to be faithful and true to His righteous standard.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Stop the Hate--Shut Up"

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).
Last week a woman on Facebook had the audacity to refer to President Barack Obama as “evil.” A vocal supporter of the President and his agenda took severe umbrage. (I know…hard to believe, right? An easily offended liberal?) Anyway, our sensitive social progressive wrote the ensuing rebuke.
Calling someone evil that you don't even know is harsh...No president is evil or has been. Evil are people who rape and kill children and women and so forth. You don't like policy then do something about - take a stand and talk to the leaders. Do something than bitch [sic]. Volunteer and help folks in need - so much more to do than calling a person evil. Folks killing off others - thus genocide is evil…Get clarity on true evil and let's work for a better future than all this hate. What Hitler and his followers did to the Jews and gays was evil beyond evil. Stop the hate. I'm sick of it.
Please notice: Those who resent and oppose biblical morality are downright puritanical when it comes to their own skewed sense of right and wrong. It seems that the moral outrage of the ethically challenged knows no bounds. What follows is my response to the above quote.

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What you pejoratively term "bitching" is covered under the freedom of speech. The legal right to call a sitting President "evil" should be cherished by all. Sadly, the U.S. government, with our sheepish compliance if not tacit approval, has been systematically curtailing our liberties for much of our nation's history.

I would also add, sir, that most folks can walk and chew gum at the same time. Just because a person decries an elected official as "evil" doesn't mean that that person is inactive or does nothing to pursue what they perceive to be the greater good.

You allege: "No president is evil or has been."

You then offer: "Evil are people who rape and kill children and women and so forth....Folks killing off others... Get clarity on true evil..."

When you claim that no President has been or is evil, and then you list what you consider to be evil actions; it makes me wonder: Have you never read an American history book? Our government, as a matter of policy, has engaged in many such activities. (You have the right to speak freely but you do not have the right to be correct while so doing.)

Furthermore, when you speak of "true evil" you are invoking moral categories. Morality is predicated upon the character of God. God defines what is moral--not man--and then He imposes His morality upon man both externally [God's Law written upon tables of stone] and internally [God's Law written upon tables of the heart--conscience].

Thus, morality is absolute and unchanging. Morality is not a matter of subjective, fickle feelings. And, morality cannot be altered by popular vote. 51% can make something legal, but 51% cannot make something moral. Morality is in no sense democratic and that which is "legal" is often immoral.

You write: "Stop the hate. I'm sick of it."

Stopping hatred goes both ways, friend. Some of the most hateful, intolerant people in all the world are on the left, and when someone like me disagrees with their position they hurl insults such as "homophobe, bigot, extremist," or, quite popular nowadays, "racist."

You see, anyone who dares to disagree with the left's agenda is automatically maligned and marginalized in effort to stifle debate, to "shut them up." So, yes, we should "stop the hate." I think we're all "sick of it."
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It should be abundantly clear from this brief exchange that there is no escaping the subject of morality. Man is a responsible moral agent and he cannot think or live non-morally. Absolute amorality is unthinkable and unlivable. And so it’s not that those who reject godliness want no morality. Far from it. What they want and shrilly demand is godless “morality.” That is, they want to define what is “good” and what is “evil” on their own terms and without any reference to the Moral Law Giver.

The U.S. has lost its Christian moral consensus. So the question is this: In post-Christian America, whose morality will be legally imposed upon whom?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Joel Osteen Dances With A King

The following transcript is an excerpt from a Larry King interview with bestselling author and mega church pastor, Joel Osteen. This interview was conducted in 2005. Millions of Christians purchase Mr. Osteen's books and devotedly view his weekly television show. I would like for you to read this interview and consider it in the light of Romans 1:16,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 
How do you suppose the Apostle Paul, if he could’ve been given such a forum, such a world stage as “The Larry King Show,” would have handled these questions? Do you think he would have answered Mr. King differently?

KING: Is it hard to lead a Christian life?
OSTEEN: I don't think it's that hard. To me it's fun. We have joy and happiness. Our family--I don't feel like that at all. I'm not trying to follow a set of rules and stuff. I'm just living my life.

KING: But you have rules, don't you?
OSTEEN: We do have rules. But the main rule to me is to honor God with your life. To live a life of integrity. Not be selfish. You know, help others. But that's really the essence of the Christian faith.

KING: That we live in deeds?
OSTEEN: I don't know. What do you mean by that?

KING: Because we've had ministers on who said, your record don't count. You either believe in Christ or you don't. If you believe in Christ, you are, you are going to heaven. And if you don't no matter what you've done in your life, you ain't.
OSTEEN: Yeah, I don't know. There's probably a balance between. I believe you have to know Christ. But I think that if you know Christ, if you're a believer in God, you're going to have some good works. I think it's a cop-out to say I'm a Christian but I don't ever do anything ...

KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?
OSTEEN: You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?
OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/20/lkl.01.html

Where to begin? Let’s start with a major mistake in categories. I am thinking of those all-important categories of “Law” and “Gospel.” Mr. Osteen confuses or conflates the two. Biblically, the Law is what God requires of us and the Gospel is what God accomplishes for us in the Person and work of His Son.

Mr. Osteen knows no such distinction. Rather, he says the “essence of the Christian faith” is to “not be selfish” and to “help others.” Loved one, this is not anywhere near to being the essence of the Christian faith. The essence of the Christian faith is the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who He was and is and what He did on our behalf.

“Do not be selfish. Help others.” This is the non-gospel message of Mr. Osteen. This is the non-gospel of  justification by niceness. [“Justification” is a theological word never used by Osteen.] “Be good!” is not the Gospel. For that matter, it’s not even the Law. It’s what Michael Horton dubs: Law-lite.

Mr. Osteen’s non-gospel message epitomizes Richard Niebuhr’s description of the “gospel” according to theological liberalism: “God without wrath brought men without sin, into a world without judgment, through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

No, Mr. Osteen is not a liberal theologian. (In fact, he is a theologian only in the loosest sense of the word.) But his non-gospel message, in the final analysis, brings us to precisely the same point as the liberalism of old--Christless “Christianity.” How sad, how absurd, that a Christ denying talk show host, Larry King, seems to grasp the reality of the situation better than the mega church pastor and religious author, Joel Osteen.

Which brings us to our next and last observation: Point blank, Mr. King queries Mr. Osteen concerning the eternal destiny of those who “don't accept Christ at all.” Rather than lovingly and unflinchingly preach Jesus Christ as the Savior of all men, Mr. Osteen feebly responds: “I don’t know.

Mr. King presses further: “They're wrong, aren't they?” Rather than make the most of this second opportunity, Mr. Osteen yet again squeamishly utters: “I don’t know.” In this short transcript I count Mr. Osteen say “I don’t know” seven times. The ignorance or pretended ignorance is astounding. Do you know what’s even more astounding? The fact that millions of believers in Jesus look to such teachers for spiritual guidance. What does this say of the condition of the Church in the West?

Where is the certainty born of the conviction that the Bible is God’s sure, eternal, and everlasting Word? We need servants of Christ who know and know that they know. I’m not talking about the certainty born of ignorance; but the certainty which comes from knowing and understanding God’s word.

We need servants of the Lord who recognize that the source of spiritual authority and truth does not reside in the individual or person but in the scripture. We desperately need men and women cut from the same cloth as the Apostles, Athanasius, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, and Spurgeon. May God grant that you and I be that kind of person with that quality of passion and conviction--that type of person rightly labeled long ago: Christian.